Chiragh clinches Panasonic Open India golf title

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Indian golfer Chiragh Kumar bagged his maiden win on the Asian Tour carding two-under 70 in the fourth and final round to clinch the Panasonic Open India title with a three-stroke victory at the Delhi Golf Club (DGC) here on Sunday.

Going into the final round with a one-shot cushion over Siddikur Rahman at his home course, Chiragh picked up his breakthrough title with a total of 13-under 275 (67-66-72-70). The 31-year-old pocketed $72,000 out of the $400,000 tournament’s prize money.

Siddikur suffered a recurring lower back injury on the second hole and had to battle through the pain barrier before settling for his second runner-up finish in the event. The 30-year-old finished on a 69 to share the spot with Thai veteran Thaworn Wiratchant (69). They earned$34,600 each.

Namchok Tantipokhakul of Thailand fired a superb 66 to end his campaign in a share of fourth place alongside Mithun Perera (70) of Sri Lanka and Indian duo — stalwart Jyoti Randhawa (67) and Shubhankar Sharma (69) on 279. It was the second year running that 19-year-old Shubhankar was fourth.

Overnight leader Chiragh had to fend off a strong challenge from Siddikur as they tied for the lead at the turn on 12-under.

The Indian holed a birdie on the 11th to restore order but it was a huge 25-foot birdie putt on the 13th hole which gave him the edge.

Siddikur fought back with a birdie on the 15th but two costly bogeys on the 17th and 18th due to bad swings, dashed his title hopes.

Chiragh holed his short par putt on the 18th and final hole to seal his maiden Asian Tour title in front of his wife, Namrata, daughter Aynaz, parents and friends among the packed galleries.

World No.578 Chiragh, who virtually grew up on the fairways and the greens of the DGC, said it was a “dream come true” moment for him.

“Winning an Asian Tour event means a lot to me. I have come close once or twice in the past. I have actually been playing well for the last month and winning at the Delhi Golf Club makes it very special. I have grown up over here seeing senior players playing at this course and wanting to be at that stage and experiencing it today is really a dream come true,” said an emotional Chiragh.

“The most important thing is I was finally able to get over the line. I always knew that Siddikur will be a tough guy to beat especially when he was one-shot behind me. I’m lucky he didn’t get off to a hot start. It was neck and neck all the way but I kept myself together and played well,” Chiragh, who finished runner-up in 2011 Indian Open here, told reporters.

“I made that long putt on the 13th and that gave me a two-shot cushion at that time. It definitely makes things easier to have some cushion especially at the Delhi Golf Club. I missed a short birdie on 14 but I told myself not to let it get to me,” Chiragh, who finished runner-up at the Macao Open last month to secure his Asian Tour card, explained.

Two other Delhi boys, Manav Jaini (68), who plays a lot of practice rounds with Chiragh, and Vikrant Chopra (70), tied for the eighth spot with Shankar Das (69) as six Indians finished in Top-10.

Rashid Khan (70) who had three doubles in the week, was sole 11th, while S. Chikka (two-over 74), who promised so much earlier in the round, bogeyed last three holes and dropped to 12th with Pariya Junhasavasdakul (68) of Thailand and Indian duo of Sujjan Singh and Rahil Gangjee (69).

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